In Exodus 19 and 20, the people of God have just pitched their tents and opened the marshmallows when Moses is called into a conference meeting with God at Mount Sinai. God wants some one on one time with His people and lays out the protocol for meeting Him.
First, the people must sanctify themselves by washing their clothes. Laundry day is no small feat in the desert where there is a lack of water and no laundromat in sight. The Hebrews and in particular, the priests are to set themselves apart for three days in preparation for their meeting with God.
On the third day, God shows up bright and early for the summit meeting, heralded by a very loud trumpet, thunder and lightning while a thick shroud of smoke pours off the top of Mount Sinai like a smoke stack. As God’s glory descends, the mountain begins to tremble and shake like a volcano in His presence. This is Almighty God Himself, Creator of the Universe displaying His Majesty before the people.
Like the mountain, the people begin to tremble and shake. And when the trumpet sounds long and hard, Moses calls out to God and He answers in an audible voice. Then suddenly, the Lord touches down on the top of the mountain and beckons Moses into His office. With no elevator in sight, Moses takes the stairs to the top.
Out of concern for their healthy and safety, God tells Moses to ensure that the people stay within the boundaries set around the mountain. If even one of them accidentally breaks through, touches the mountain or even looks upon God, they will be struck dead on the spot. This is serious business.
God then sends Moses back down the mountain to get Aaron. Moses returns to the people and relay the message from God. This is when the Ten Commandments are given by God to set out the law before the people.
With full knowledge that they will barely be able to keep even one of the ten commandments, God sees the big picture and knows that He will at the appropriate time send His Son to fulfill the requirements of the law by taking the punishment of sin and shedding His blood to restore the people to a holy God. Until then, the law will serve as a training tool to prepare the people for their Messiah.
After the commandments are given, the people tell Moses they’re not so sure they want to talk with God face to face after all. It would be much easier for them if he just told them what He said and vice versa. Moses encourages them, saying that God really isn’t as scary as He appears right now what with the lightning, thunder and smoke effects. He tries in vain to convince them that to know Him is to love Him.
God speaks to Moses again and lays out the endless requirements of the law as the people slowly back off and go about business as usual. Sadly, they don’t realize what they’re missing as they choose to forgo a personal relationship with the Living God.
Sadly, many people have made the same choice today. I’m not talking about unbelievers. How many Christians do you know that go from week to week, checking out their favourite TV preacher or even just sitting in church on Sunday to hear what God is saying to them. As a young Christian, I heard Chuck Swindoll say on his radio program, “If this is the only spiritual food you’re getting, it’s just like eating regurgitated food. You need to get into the Word for yourself and get fresh food from God every day.”
How many people are running from place to place to hear what God is saying and doing when all they have to do is pray and open their Bible? If you aren’t getting anything out of it or if you think the Bible is just too hard to understand, then ask God for revelation before you read. Shut out the distractions (TV, internet or whatever else is taking your attention) and spend some time getting to know God’s Word on a daily basis. A wise person once told me his rule was, “No Bible, No Breakfast.”
The way you get to know someone is by listening and observing the things they say and the things they do. Jesus said if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father. So how will you know what the Father is like if you never crack open the Bible to see what Jesus is like? Prayer without the Word has the potential to get way off-track. We’ve all seen it before. Some people’s idea of who God is simply not Biblical. That’ why we have people insisting that God told them to do something really off the wall and the end result is that someone gets hurt.
Stepping down from the box now, I want to encourage you to get to know God better than you do today. No matter what level you’re at, which can’t be successfully measured by man anyway, you can always get closer to God. He’s not some dog that you leave at home alone every day who’s just so grateful when you give him a pat on the head every once in a while. God deserves better than that.
If you need to make some changes, don’t put it off. Having a relationship with God will cost you time, energy and resources, just like everything else in your life. The question is what are you investing in and what will it pay you back in the end?
Sorry for the hard preaching, but time is short for all of us to get into alignment with God’s will. It starts with taking time to know Him more. He really is a good God. Take it from Moses and me: To know Him is to love Him.